Reg. Trib. Milano n. 418 del 02.07.2007 - Direttore responsabile: Elisabetta Brunella

International Edition No. 184 - year 16 - 2 August 2021

  Special issue on the occasion of the tenth edition of Ciné
– the convention of the Italian exhibitors and distributors

 
more than 15,000 subscribers

 

Dear Readers,

Paolo Prottiin this issue we should like to share the news that has emerged from Ciné 2021 - the meeting of Italian exhibitors and distributors - concentrating on what is of interest at an international level.
First of all you will find an article on the opening conference, with a view to which MEDIA Salles made available its data contextualising what has been happening in the various different countries during the pandemic. Thanks to reports from representative members of the various markets, an analysis has been made of the modes of restart and recovery in Italy, France and Spain. As well as observing the usual differences existing between the three countries, shared issues have emerged linked to the difficulties the pandemic has caused everywhere. 

The vast offer of new titles
I should like to emphasise the positive current that has reached the sector thanks to the presentation of numerous films of great interest from a commercial, as well as from a qualitative point of view. Nonetheless the considerable number of titles announced between August and December gives rise to concerns about the real possibilities of implementing balanced programming and avoiding moments of dangerous overlap. This risk also opens up the prospect in Italy of finally taking up a serious discussion on screen sharing, which becomes the only tool for dealing with the forecast rush of releases.

Green Pass
At the end of the event, came the announcement of the introduction of this tool for allowing entry to cinemas, effective as from 6 August. The measure has once again generated a situation of uncertainty and moderate concern both for exhibitors and for distributors. As well as the managerial difficulties involved, the restrictions imposed on some categories only - amongst which cinemas and theatres - is what causes annoyance, as these are places that have always adopted strict preventive measures against Covid. There is a good deal of concern that the measure will rule out an important audience sector (most young people are not vaccinated), determining a drop in box office and compromising the first positive results that were finally being recorded on the Italian market. And one cannot help but wonder whether these new scenarios will determine changes in the strategy of film releases.

A scenario has therefore emerged from Ciné that is marked by great enthusiasm for restart and recovery but also by the awareness that hard challenges are not yet a thing of the past.

Happy reading, and, most importantly, all the best in your work,

Paolo Protti
President of MEDIA Salles


Ciné: in Italy the first professional event of 2021

After Cannes and before Venice - the festivals that place the big screen in pride of place all over the world - Ciné was the first event at a national level to succeed in bringing exhibitors and distributors together face to face.
Held in Riccione from 20 to 23 July, it gave visibility to the presentation of catalogues, displaying the wealth of titles to be released in Italy in the next six months.
At the same time it turned the spotlight on the international dimension of restart and recovery.
The opening conference in fact allowed a comparison to be made of the situation in Italy and that in France and Spain.

Markets compared: France
An optimistic note regarding this country came from Xavier Albert (Managing Director of Universal Pictures International Italy & France). On 19 May French cinemas re-opened and were able to rely on a variety of titles, from domestic productions to Oscar candidates (though there were also exhibitors who placed their bets on "Demon Slayer”, the production that boasts most viewers in Japan) with results substantially in line with those of 2019. Universal supports the recovery with the release of a new film every week, such as "Présidents” (30 June) and "Fast and Furious 9” (14 July).
Of particular practical use for encouraging a return to the movie theatres was the Fête du Cinéma, which lasted 5 days instead of 4, and began on 30 June, so as to exploit the end of the curfew and of the restrictions on seating capacity in movie theatres.
The audience sector that causes most concern is that of senior citizens (over the age 50), with a 20% dip in box office.
Marc-Olivier Sebbag (Delegate General of the FNCF, the French exhibitors’ association) stressed that the Fête du Cinéma, reintroduced in 2021 after the cancellation of the 2020 edition, experienced record admissions (3.5 million spectators), attracting mainly young audiences, but he also expressed deep concern over the possible effects of the introduction of the "pass sanitaire" - as from 21 July obligatory over the age of 17 - on a re-opening after two false starts (June and December 2020) carefully prepared by exhibitors and distributors. 
The fear is that the new measure, introduced by the Government without even giving exhibitors the time to re-organise, according to Sebagg, may determine the loss of at least 20% of the spectators recovered with so much effort.

Markets compared: Spain
Contradictory signs from Spain, represented at Ciné by Thomas J. Ciampa (Senior Vice-President Theatrical Distribution Italy, Spain & Portugal and Local Productions Italy di Warner Bros. Entertainment) and Fernando Evole (Country Manager of Yelmo Cines and Vice-President of the FECE, the Spanish exhibitors’ association).
Whilst both commented favourably on the information campaign by the Government, entitled "La Cultura es segura" and even on the role played by the royal family in encouraging a confident return to cultural activities, Evole made no mystery of the fact that the drop in admissions in 2020 amounted to 75%, and to 67% in this first half of 2021. Losses in the sector have been estimated at 90 million euros with support from the State coming to around 20 million euros. This explains why some exhibitors have failed to survive the pandemic.
Contrasting situations now exist alongside one another: on the one hand the percentage of the fully vaccinated stands at about 50% of the target and blockbusters of international interest have re-appeared (during the pandemic the market share of the independents rose from 15% to 38%), on the other hand cases of Covid amongst the younger generation are rising and restrictions persist in some regions, as for example on the consumption of food and beverages.
The vast offer was noted by Ciampa: Warner, Spain’s biggest distributor, has distributed 97 titles. Recalling that in Spain’s 17 regions, after the closures between March and May 2020 there was no other real national lockdown but a variety of local situations, he emphasised the fact that many exhibitors chose to keep their cinemas open amidst a thousand difficulties and restrictions, as well as the reduced number of spectators. To sum up, for Ciampa Spain’s market is "suffering but still alive”. Now it’s a question of continuing with the initiatives that make audiences confident of safety in the theatres and promote the incomparable qualities of the big screen.
This is why Ciampa expressed the hope - which is in fact recurrent amongst distributors - that the theatres will continue to improve their technological standards and comfort, whilst Evole repeated the classic demand from exhibitors, for a variety of films with strong commercial attraction appropriately scheduled for release.

Markets compared: Italy
A contribution on this subject came from Luigi Lonigro (President of ANICA distributors and Senior Manager of 01 Distribution), who deplored the fact that the work done in Italy in 2019 with the combined exhibition and distribution sectors to ensure a stronger summer season in terms of offer, had all came to nothing: the month of July 2021 recorded a drop of 50% compared to 2019. The whole market in Italy since 26 April - the date on which theatres were authorised to re-open - counted 3.6 million spectators in July, or the number France had recovered in the 5 days of the Fête du Cinéma.
Briefly, not only were Italian movie theatres released from lockdown at the start of the low season, but they also had to contend with the acceleration that took the Italian team into the finals of the European Football Championship, as well as with the absence of rain.

The debate on windows
In this context - added Mario Lorini, President of ANEC - the subject of windows comes up. One of the effects of cinema in times of pandemic was the shake-up that came almost everywhere to the rules - whether written or based on custom - that guarantee theatrical exclusivity.
Whilst a willingness emerged on the part of the exhibitors to discuss the conditions for this exclusive window - seen as a pre-condition for the commercial advantage of the entire chain of value of the film’s exploitation - any curtailing of the window should take place in a broader discussion between exhibition and distribution. For example, Evole spoke of adjusting the movie rental fee and Lorini of the practical conditions for making screen sharing possible, a practice that is still not well established on the Italian market compared to the situation internationally.

The short- and medium-term challenges
To sum up, at Ciné 2021 the discussion centred on how the cinema and cinemas should face the most urgent challenges posed today by the lasting spread of Covid and the now generalised introduction of the green pass, but also on broader prospects. At the cost - insisted Sebagg - of making decisions that are unpleasant in the short term but fruitful in the medium- long-term. The "road map” for the cinemas of the future - in Ciampa’s view - includes increasingly differentiated and advanced services in the theatres and an adequate response to the growing demand by society for closer attention to environmental issues, as well as the use of big data for better targeted promotion, calibrated on the film and potential audience sector. Lastly, again concluding with Sebagg’s words, the theatres must shake off the image of being a thing of the past and instead demonstrate that they know how to keep up with the modern world.

ALL DIFFERENT ALL DIGITAL

This column hosts portraits of cinemas in Europe and the rest of the world which are quite different from one another but have in common the fact that they have all adopted digital projection.

Cinepalace, Riccione
by Maria Elena Nucci

Country
Site
Town
No. of screens
Digital screens
number and technology
3D screens number and technology
Italy
Cinepalace
Riccione
6
6 Sony 4K projectors - 1 of which is laser illuminated
2 Dolby

A congress centre and a multiscreen cinema: in Riccione, one of the most important locations on the coast of Emilia Romagna, the two structures cohabit in a single and decidedly special building. It is here, just a few steps away from the sea front and the famous Viale Maria Ceccarini, the heart of the town’s social life, that Ciné is held. The meeting between Italian exhibitors and distributors, which celebrated its tenth edition in 2021, can thus count on both the vast and well distributed spaces of the Centre and on the Cinepalace’s auditoria.

Opened in 2010, this complex has six screens, seating a total of over one thousand spectators. All of them are equipped with air conditioning, stadium seating with comfortable armchair seats, Sony 4K projectors (one of which is laser illuminated) and for the sound digital ex surround Dolby systems and DTS. Two screens are able to provide 3D viewing thanks to Dolby technology.

Designed to be barrier-free, the Cinepalace offers free parking to its customers, as well as a bar. This urban movie theatre is part of the chain belonging to Giometti, a family owned business now in its third generation.

"Everything,” says Massimiliano Giometti, the present technical and commercial head of the Group, "began with our grandfather Gino, who brought the cinema to the summer vacation resorts on the seashore, thanks to a 16mm projector. The next step came with the open air cinemas of Riccione, Gabicce, Cattolica and then, in 1973, came the first real cinema. In 1981 the second generation - represented by my father and my uncle Salvatore - bought the first cinema in Cattolica and rented the Settebello in Rimini, the Metropolis in Pesaro and other cinemas in Senigallia and Ancona, totalling a dozen or so single- and two-screen cinemas in Romagna and Le Marche. In 1999, when the foreign chains came to Italy, we decided to take the field ourselves. We had planned three complexes in Pesaro, Fano and Ancona and in the end we built 15, around one a year, through Romagna, Le Marche, Abruzzo, Umbria and Tuscany. In 2010 we totalled 150 screens in 15 venues, coming in third place after the foreign giants.”

Other structures were then leased to third parties but the Giometti Group has now resumed the direct management of 12 complexes for a total of 94 screens and has already proved that it is placing its odds on the big screen for the future, despite Covid.

In Ancona, for example, the multiplex at the Baraccola has re-opened, equipping one of the nine theatres with special armchair seats divided by small tables, thus guaranteeing a safe distance of at least 110 cm between spectators.

The building in Prato (14 screens and seating for 3,500) has been completely renovated and fitted with NEC laser projectors. The Group’s programming, too, has opted for innovative paths, for example by focusing on added content.

As well as traditional programming, the Cinepalace in Riccione regularly offers art based films or so-called "visual music” productions. This choice has transformed the Riccione site into a cultural hub which is able to meet the demands of a diversified and demanding public.

In this sense, as early as 2017, Massimiliano Giometti declared: "If in the past someone had said to me: "In a few years you’ll be attracting people on week days to watch documentaries or Opera at 12 euros per ticket”, I wouldn’t have believed them. Yet this has come about at the Cinepalace. And we have three national records for Opera. Added content in Riccione has come to represent 60% of our turnover”.

Now, too, in re-opening after the pandemic, marked by the rush of releases with the risk of overcrowding and overlapping, at the Cinepalace there is room for added content, programmed as "events” or "seasons”.

In November it will be the turn of "Raphael Revealed”, which will make it possible to view the over two hundred masterpieces exhibited in Rome in a high-prestige exhibition which, however, was obliged to close to the public for three long months, due to lockdown.

It will be followed by the production devoted to Frida Kahlo, also in the series Exhibition on Screen, which will be offered in October, whilst in December it will be possible to attend screenings of "Water lilies by Monet", the Nexo Digital coproduction dedicated to the great master of Impressionism. But the Cinepalace also has its eye on football fans - or those who like stories of personal triumphs and success - offering the biopic "I am Zlatan" taken from the biography of Ibrahimovic. Nonetheless, after various postponements, it seems we shall still have to wait for the start of 2022... But the path is mapped out: "Event,” according to Massimiliano Giometti, "is the keyword of the future.” 

Cinepalace, Riccione


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Edito da: MEDIA Salles - Reg. Trib.
Milano n. 418 dello 02/07/2007
 
 
Direttore responsabile:
Elisabetta Brunella
 
 
Coordinamento redazionale:
Silvia Mancini
 
 
Raccolta dati ed elaborazioni statistiche: Paola Bensi, Silvia Mancini